Turn on your TV or radio, flip through the stations and you will invariably hear someone talking about a dreadful famine somewhere in the world. Famine is not a pretty sight, so those who would encourage you to send money to help the sufferers show you the most pitiful pictures of starving children. These sights are meant to cause you to open your pocketbooks and send them, the producers of the show, your money. Some of these may be honest and upright in their handling of the funds. God knows, we do not. Our objection to these pious appeals is the suggestion that you are giving to Jesus or putting another star in your crown by these benevolent acts. These religionists neglect a famine just as great and just as pathetic in this and all other so-called civilized nations.
The words of the prophet Amos are proved to be just as true today as when they were spoken, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:11,12. How much of what passes for “preaching the word” today really declares God’s words? Listen to the average, minister of any denomination and you will hear one of three things: a free-will gospel sent to the natural man, a vain liberalism that denies that God ever has words for men or a superficial dead-letter lip-service to “Calvinistic” doctrine without the power of the Holy Spirit or experimental applications of the truths preached. If the famine in this land were of bread or water then thousands of “religious” people would rise to try to help their fellows. Why not the same mind for relief of this famine? Simply, the people love to have it so.
Consider the first of our three groups: the free-wilier. Now, when I use this term do not think that I am only referring to the rabid soul-saving “evangelistic” types that brow-beat their hearers to “give their hearts to Jesus” or “come, before it’s everlastingly too late.” These are easy to spot, and the sufferer in this famine knows that there is no relief with these. There is a more subtle free-willer who might say something like “salvation is all by the Grace of God, but we have to exhort believers to obey the precepts of the Gospel so they can work out their own salvation,” or “salvation is through Grace alone, but we still have our duty to perform.” These preachers still see something in the natural man that must be prodded into action in the Kingdom of God. Present to them the truth of God’s word, “the flesh profiteth nothing” or “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” or “ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ” and they recoil in horror with the cry “antinomianism” on their lips. Are these free-will duty preachers so ignorant of the depravity of their own hearts that they would affirm that they do anything in any phase of their salvation? Those who cry up duty are attempting to disguise their free-willism by applying it only to those whom they believe to be born again. The tried and afflicted child of God who sits under such a ministry will confess how much famine is in the land. God’s people do not need to hear how much they fall short of God’s standard; they are too painfully aware of that already! Exhort them to their duty and they will say, “Yes, that is my duty. Can you give me the power to do it?” These want to hear of Jesus fulfilling on Calvary ALL the duty that they cannot do themselves. They desire Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, not that He started it but they must exercise it. Many pilgrims stop for these thinking they are oases in the desert, but soon find out the starvation awaits them there, also.
The second of our famine-mongers is the liberal. We shall not spend much time with this one, for not many of God’s sheep get caught up in their snares. Any who deny the Bible is the literal Word of God cannot long entrap the child of God who has seen in the Bible’s pages a description of himself, God and His perfect law and, paramountly, the Grace of God in Jesus Christ for the redemption of His people. These liberals replace the Good News of Jesus with “social action” and liberal politics. They deny the reality of salvation through the blood of Christ; the point the hungry want most to hear. The sufferers in this famine desire the truth that Jesus made complete satisfaction for all the sins of the Elect by the sacrifice of Himself. Therefore, the teachings of the liberals contribute to the famine in the land but have no attraction to God’s hungry poor.
We could fill up our pages with descriptions of other contributors to the famine which plagues the thirsty, starving stranger in the land such as dispensationalism, ecumenicism, charasmatism and other assorted isms, but We shall forbear. The third group, “the dead-letter Calvinist”, is by far the most pernicious of all of these. After one gets his fill of Arminianism or runs in horror from the liberal, he turns to the “Calvinist” who has much of the bare letter of the truth, but not the Spirit. In listening to their words are as dry, dead leaves that have no effect on the heart. There is no enlivening Spirit accompanying their words. What said our Master about true worship? “They that worship shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.” The bare letter of the truth will not do for worship if not accompanied by the Divine Spirit.
Have any of our readers ever sought a Spiritual ministry of God’s Word and came upon one preaching predestination, election or limited atonement and thought, “Here is an oasis in this desert land?” Then the longer you sat under that ministry you found it to be dry, dead and devoid of the life-giving Spirit. Many today have a head-knowledge of the doctrines of Grace but have never had those blessed truths brought home to them in experience. They have an intellectual knowledge that God rules over all things, a mental realization that Jesus’ death effectually put away the sins of His people, but this has not come to them in the power of God. By offering Christ to sinners or exhorting the Saints to duty these show that no matter what doctrine is in their heads, in their hearts they are still Arminians.
What is lacking from these? Is it baptism? God has owned the ministry of the upbaptized in the past, and we cannot limit how He will choose to work in the future. Besides, most of those who have been dipped fall into one of our three groups. Is it that they do not know the Bible? Most of them can quote the letter of the Book as well, or better, than you or I. The thing lacking is that God has not taught them by experience the truth that is in their brains. They have John Calvin or John Gill or A. W. Pink and are convinced by logical arguments and not by God’s Spirit. This is manifested in their attempt to bind intolerable burdens on those who already labor under a heavy load. The heavy laden do not need an iron hand laid on them to push their burdens down and make them heavier. They need to be told of Jesus who takes away the heavy burden and replaces it with His easy one.
The struggling pilgrim who has labored under any of these systems knows the burdens they cause and that a description of them would fill our pages for many numbers. Reader, have you “wandered from sea to sea” to find the Lord’s words and discovered that those who loudly claimed to feed the sheep were really the chief contributors to the famine? Has God made you sick of these things? Is your heart made tender about the abominations in Zion? Think not that because you belong to a “Primitive Baptist Church” that you are exempt from these evils! The famine is EVERYWHERE in the land. We personally know of many “churches” wearing the name “Primitive Baptist” that fall into at least one of these catagories, and, we must confess, if the only assembly near us was of that type, we would stay home with our Bible. We would not trust the prevailing errors of the day, and to raise a warning voice against them. We have proved in our experience that there can be no fellowship between light and darkness, so let us stand, by the Grace of God, and earnestly contend for the Faith before all who throw stones in the highway to cause the pilgrim to stumble. Be glad if there are two or three like-minded ones with whom you can have fellowship in the Gospel. All other fellowship is vain. May our covenant God bless us to remain faithful and reveal to us Jesus, our only refreshment in this barren land.
Volume 1 - April-May, 1987